I can remember the exact instant I decided bartending would be it for me. Looking back, the moment wasn’t poetic at all. There was no pause, or reflection, or a Siddhartha-like basking in the sun meditation session which would ultimately culminate in the decision-making process. In reality, it was much more monotonous than that. I had just finished a sixty-hour work week and I was working the lunch shift of the bar at the Mediterranean restaurant I was now at the helm of; I had just been promoted to bar manager.
There was a very daunting task ahead of me. I had never held any management position before, and I would pretty much be doing on-the-job training. So to relieve my stress that particular morning, I thought to make myself a stiff drink and have the poisonous lubricant somehow silence my inner monologue.
I daggered my eye sockets down to the liquor well, grabbed the ice scoop, threw a couple of ice cubes into my cocktail shaker, and proceeded to look for the right spirit(s) of choice. My memory is a bit funky at this point, so bear with me. For shits and giggles let’s just say I grabbed a bottle of Mezcal, a bottle of St. Germain, tossed in some fresh herbs and berries, maybe some honey syrup and of course my go-to citrus of choice (lime juice is the benevolent king). Next came the knocking of the tins together to commence in the shaking process, i.e., the infusion of liquids.
It’s hard to explain the sound a cocktail shaker makes when ice smashes back and forth between its metallic walls. It’s a sexy crackling noise that heightens all the senses, a sedated mini-explosion being muffled in a small object held with two hands. It’s such a fucking rush. It’s in that moment you realize that you either love the bar world (and everything that comes with it) or you don’t. You either embrace the ten- to twelve-hour shifts you work daily, standing on the soles of your near comatose toes, or you fold like an accordion under even the slightest pressure. It’s not to say in this business that a middle ground doesn’t exist, but it does take a certain passion to go the distance.
And as I write this, I’m going off of four hours of sleep after putting in three back-to-back ten-hour shifts. I’m definitively exhausted, my bones feel numb through my skin, and every part of my body aches beyond belief. But I’ll be at it again tonight. That I can promise you. Hope you stop by for a drink, because the first round is on me.